Isn't it nice Harford has the Ma & Pa Trail? Wouldn't it be nicer to connect it? [Editorial]

Folks make their way through a wooded area along the uncompleted two miles of the Ma & Pa Trail north of Bel Air Sunday. The walk was held to raise awareness and support for the new section.
Folks make their way through a wooded area along the uncompleted two miles of the Ma & Pa Trail north of Bel Air Sunday. The walk was held to raise awareness and support for the new section. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

Newsroom banter is such that on occasion we talk about writing "isn't it nice" editorials. Isn't this nice? Isn't that nice? And so on and so on.

On Page A4 of Wednesday's paper, we published a real isn't it nice photo by Matt Button, who captured the essence of what could be the Ma & Pa Trail in all of its autumn glory, reflected in the mirror of a nearby stream.


That brings us to the real isn't it nice subject.

Isn't the Ma & Pa Trail in Bel Air nice? And wouldn't it be so much nicer if the two unconnected pieces were reunited by a missing two-mile stretch that would connect a large portion of where the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad used to run?


Yes and yes are the correct answers to the last two questions. And, yes, Matt Button's photo, taken during a walk along the unconnected portion, is nice, too.

About 130 people participated in the seventh annual Connect the Trail Walk Sunday afternoon, as they walked along a two-mile section needed to connect the Forest Hill and Bel Air/Fallston sections of the popular Harford County recreational trail.

The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, the Ma & Pa as it's lovingly recalled, still captivates some in Harford County more than a half century after the last time it ran. Parts of trestles, remainders of cuts and other reminders of where the Ma & Pa ran are hidden along the Harford County landscape.

Some years back, there was an effort to preserve the railroad's heritage by turning some of its path into a trail. From Friends Park in Forest Hill there's a stretch of pass that takes walkers toward Bel Air. Then there's a dead end where the trail stops.

From Williams Street, the trail restarts and carries walkers to Tollgate Road opposite the Harford County Equestrian Center. From there it goes to Annie's Playground in Fallston.

About 130 people came out Sunday to walk the two-mile section between Forest Hill and Bel Air where advocates hope to connect existing sections of the Ma & Pa Trail. (David Anderson, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Both legs of the trail are very nice. But we are partial to the Williams Street leg, especially at this time of year when the forest along the trail is alive with the blazing colors of the huge trees turning colors.

The falling leaves, at some times and in some places, fall and turn into swishing sound-makers as they coat the trail and some walkers kick the leaves along the way.

As we've said before, it would be incredible to add the lost railroad track bed, from the Bel Air Bypass through the town to Williams Street, to the other segments.

An event Sunday was held as a way to show people how the missing link added to the existing trails would be a massive improvement.

The Ma & Pa Heritage Trail, Inc. organization will hold its annul walk for the public this Sunday along the proposed route that would connect the two segments of the trail from Forest Hill to Bel Air.

Ma & Pa Heritage Trail Foundation advocates have been trying for years to re-establish that missing link. We wish them well in their quest and know the people of Bel Air fully support their efforts.

There are, however, still some complicated property rights issues and questions that have become the immovable objects in the process.

Still, we saw the beautiful photo and renewed our support for the project. And we did so while we were thinking all over again, "Wouldn't it be nice if the this portion of the trail were whole again."

And the answer is, absolutely.

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